FRANKLIN & BASH:
When Teen Idols Collide...
In a real Clash of the Titans, Zack Morris meets Dawson Leery!
That's right: 1990 teen heartthrobs Mark-Paul Gosselaar and James Van Der Beek work together for the first time I believe, when the aspiring (and weepy) filmmaker from Dawson's Creek meets the eternally preppy high school student from Saved By the Bell. On Franklin & Bash, these two happy Dutchmen now team up for Bachelor Party, perhaps the last good Franklin & Bash episode made, certainly the last good episode from Season One. Bachelor Party is an example of how to balance the oddball with the rational, a lesson Franklin & Bash forgot soon after.
Peter Bash (Gosselaar) is asked by Nathan Connor (Van Der Beek) to defend him on a solicitation charge. There's just one complication: Nathan is the fiancée of Janie (Claire Coffee), Peter's ex. Despite the tangled lives, Peter agrees to take the case. Meanwhile, Peter's life (long) partner Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) gleefully takes the case of Emilie Clair (Alexandra Breckenridge), who was fired from her job as a teacher after it was discovered she slept with a student. Technically, she did sleep with a student, but it was before she knew he was a student. The student in question, Chris (Brian Guest) had a fake ID when they hooked up at a bar. As it happens, the school, Hightower Academy, happens to be the same school Franklin went to (Class of 1994), and where he is not fondly remembered. A chance to get back at the school he dislikes? Think he'd turn THAT down?
Well, things keep getting worse for Nathan. A bellhop overs Nathan say that whatever he's paying a woman, it's not enough (thus suggesting he paid for sex). Nathan's assistant Lauren (Teresa Castillo) on the stand that he has second doubts about getting married, and not even abstinence through yoga can help. Also not helping is Nathan staying with Jared and Peter's eternal bachelor pad.
For some reason that irritates Janie.
On the Hightower front, Jared finds things are getting harder for him with the hot teacher (no pun intended). Another student claims to have schtupped Emily, but thanks to Jared's extensive knowledge of porn films, that story is debunked. He gets help through a bartender, Miss Rachel Dawson (Vedette Lim) who has seen Chris bring other women to the bar. He presents his case to the school board, who fearful of more scandal when Rachel says at least one other person in the room has slept with Chris, halt the investigation and restore Emily's job.
The other woman...was Rachel herself.
Peter proves that it was not Nathan who had sex because Nathan has given up sex prior to the wedding, thus the fact that someone could go 55 minutes with a hooker after such a long abstinence was impossible. No matter that Peter had to get Janie on the witness stand to admit they hadn't slept together in a long time.
We end with the body of Gibson Hawk being found on Mt. McKinley (and I'll still call it Mt. McKinley thank you very much). Hawk was Stanton Infeld's (Malcolm McDowell) old partner. Hawk has a stab wound, showing he was killed....and Infeld was the last person to see him alive and report his friend lost, not dead.
Bachelor Party is a fascinating episode for me in one respect. It shows, or at least attempted to show, that Jared and Peter were from radically different backgrounds. When Jared crashes the Model U.N. meeting as part of their investigation, we find that Jared was Class of '94. However, Peter says that he would never have made it on Model U.N. since he was quarterback at Grant High and that his father put in the drywall at Hightower. Thus, we draw from that that Peter was from a working-class background versus the posh, spoiled rich boy Jared is...or was...or is still. I can't say why that detail stuck with me, but I found it interesting that Peter's lower-class roots were not only never brought up again, but kind of erased in future stories where we meet Colleen Bash (Jane Seymour), as posh a woman as we've met.
To me, that indicates that Franklin & Bash co-creators Kevin Falls and Bill Chais pretty much forgot about their own creations' past. Continuity just went out the window as the show progressed (a bit like Doctor Who), and it all now in retrospect seems like a lost opportunity. Still, that is for the future.
I didn't quite get why Nathan would so willingly hang out with Jared and Peter (even if Jared appeared to be a bit jealous of both of them, thus again suggesting that Jared was secretly gay or bisexual and deeply in love with his 'best friend'). Apart from that, Bachelor Party was a really good, fun episode.
It's interesting that Van Der Beek, who has happily made a career out of spoofing himself (or the image people have of him) actually gave a grounded performance. I never saw Dawson's Creek, so I can't say anything about Van Der Beek's acting there. I can say that Nathan's genuine confusion and fear about marriage, along with his irrational interest in being with other women at the bachelor pad, made Nathan a flawed but not terrible person.
In fact, on the whole I found everyone's acting in Bachelor Party was quite solid. Gosselaar made Peter into someone who decided he was going to serve his client even if it meant putting a permanent end to his hopes to have Janie back (and yes, I agree with the Jared's assertion that Peter was his "bitch". Truer words...). McDowell's Infeld wasn't the full-on bonkers person he grew into, and Diamond continued to be the most rational figure (even his openly ambitious moves to be a judge by attempting to present a more down-home manner in an interview came across as endearing rather than manipulative).
The resolutions to the two cases were also built on logic instead of some wild deus ex machina or plot convenience. They actually investigated things, which in the future would be impossible to believe.
We also got the final episode introduced, with the discovery of Hawk's body and Infeld about to go up the river for it.
On the whole, Bachelor Party was among Franklin & Bash's best episodes. It was smart, it was well-acted, it kept a balance between silly and serious. Sadly, this was about the last time such a thing would happen on this series.
It's enough to make anyone cry. Right?
Next Episode: Go Tell It on the Mountain